Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Still Snowed In With Obamacare Schadenfreude

After all of Tropical Winter Storm Wiley (like the coyote) yesterday, we still have something around 6 inches of snow on the ground, and with a temperature of 33.1 according to our highly accurate thermometer on the deck, it isn't going anywhere quick.  Fortunately, the streets and driveway was warm when the snow fell, and much of it melted before it got cold enough to stick, and the driveway was easy to clear, and the roads were cleared without massive berms of snow on the side of the road.

Obamacare Schadenfreude is still lying around in drifts too.

I'm going to start with a piece from Professor Althouse, who noted some gender games going on with an article on the age discrimination of Obamacare:  "Obamacare leaves the average 27 year old facing a gender-averaged 47.5 percent premium increase..."
"Even after subsidies, that’s an expense that many Millennials can’t afford. Perversely, such high costs make it even harder for us to purchase health insurance in the future, when we can afford it. By not signing up for expensive plans now, insurance rates will increase as soon as next year — for everyone. That leaves us with two choices: Buy an unaffordable plan now, or wait and buy an unaffordable plan later."
From a piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal titled "We’re young, but we aren’t stupid."

"Gender-averaged"? I'd like to see that broken down into what the average increase is for a 27-year-old male and a 27-year-old female. The decisions are being made by individuals, each of whom is either a male or a female. I assume that males are looking at a much larger increase and are seeing much less advantage in having the insurance and that this is precisely why they are the most desirable members of the pool.

Young males know better than to gripe too bitterly about the burdens on the male. The above-linked article is written by a male — Evan Feinberg, the President of Generation Opportunity (whatever that is) — and he means to express himself strongly, yet he's bound by present-day gender politesse and only tells us about the "gender-averaged" problem.
Pertaining to the problem of getting the "young invincibles" enrolled (along with the generally unwilling, the ignorant, and the obstinate), a study hit the wire yesterday how a survey determined that one third of the uninsured had no intention of signing up:
The problem all along with treating the entire bloc of Americans without health insurance as a monolith is what brought us ObamaCare in the first place. The massive reorganization of the health-care sector presumed that 40 million (or 48 million, or 37 million) people lacked insurance all for the same reason — obstacles such as pre-existing conditions or economic hardship. A great many of those were either transitionally uninsured or uninsured by choice. Not surprisingly, a new survey shows that a significant number still don’t want to pay for health insurance, mandates notwithstanding:

A new report finds that one in three Americans who do not have health insurance plan to remain uninsured.
According to the survey done by Bankrate.com, of the 34 percent who say they won’t purchase Obamacare, 41 percent said it was too expensive, 17 percent were against the Affordable Care Act and 13 percent said they were healthy enough not to need coverage.
“It’s hard to generalize, but for some of these folks, it’s a case of, ‘I’m in pretty good health, I don’t think about these things, I know I can’t afford it now,’” Michael Morrisey, professor of health economics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, told Bankrate.com. “I think it’s just rolling past them, and they’re not giving it a whole lot of attention.”
Only 56 percent polled said they plan to purchase health insurance.
The article then quotes a researcher who thinks that the problem is that the White House didn’t emphasize the penalties hard enough. Well, it’s difficult to emphasize penalties when those keep getting delayed, especially by the same White House that would need to do the emphasizing. The penalty for the individual mandate is all but gone for tax years 2014 and 2015, thanks to the latest unilateral change coming from the Obama administration. Penalties that don’t penalize aren’t really all that motivating.

Besides, the survey itself makes it pretty clear that the refuseniks in this case aren’t making that decision out of sloth. More than 40% of them think ObamaCare is too expensive, and another 13% don’t see the need for comprehensive insurance, which is a majority who see the mandate as so cost-ineffective that it’s worth it to pay the penalty instead. Those are rational decisions, which a significant portion of the uninsured population made prior to ObamaCare, too.
Similar stories at Fox, and CBS.

And can you blame many of them? If they don't believe they can afford health insurance now, how will they pay for it when it costs 39-56% more?  Health insurance premiums up 39% to 56% under Obamacare, reach $2,604 a month in California
Americans buying health insurance outside the new Obamacare exchanges are being forced to swallow premiums up to 56 percent higher than before the health law took effect because insurers have jumped the cost to cover all the added features of the new Affordable Care Act.

According to a cost report from eHealthInsurance, a nationwide online private insurance exchange, families are paying an average of $663 a month and singles $274 a month, far more than before Obamacare kicked in. What's more, to save money, most buyers are choosing the lowest level of coverage, the so-called "bronze" plans.

The firm provided the costs to Secrets through their new online price index, which gives the averages of what people are paying for insurance sold through their system. In California, for example, some families are paying a high of $2,604 a month and in New York, $1,845.
. . .
"Premiums are increasing primarily because of the new required provisions for 2014 Affordable Care Act compliant plans, including guaranteed issue, essential health benefits, modified community rating and minimum actuarial values," said Brian Mast, spokesman for eHealthInsurance. "It is also likely that health insurance companies expected additional risk in the risk pool, because people with pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage, and may have priced their plans higher to accommodate for this risk," said Mast.
In other words, the liberal wish list embedded in Obamacare is chiefly responsible for the price increases. I would have thought that the coverage of pre-existing conditions (which most people support, until they realize they're paying for it and not the insurance companies) would have been a dominant factor.

One of the things about Obamacare is that many people, including me, think that democrats constructed the system to self destruct, and lead to demands for "Single-Payer" healthcare, a euphemism for "Socialized Medicine."  In ultra-progressive Vermont, the enactors of the state version of Obamacare decided to skip the intermediate destruction and go straight to the point, implementing "Single-Payer." So how is that working out?

Unexpectedly, Vermont's Plan for a State Single-Payer System Is Also Circling the Drain
Vermont didn't embrace Obamacare. You see, Obamacare didn't go far enough. Vermont instead choose to meet Obamacare's legal mandates on the states by implementing a single-payer system, planned for a 2017 start-up. The law -- is it even a law anymore? -- permits states to seek a waiver from Obamacare's other strictures if they propose their own plan which is at least as generous (that is, socialized) as Obamacare itslef.
It's gone about as well as you might expect.
Rep. Jim Condon [a "Blue Dog Democrat" who voted against the plan when it was proposed in 2011] told Vermont Watchdog it's time for Gov. Peter Shumlin to shelve the ambitious plan immediately.
"The deadlines for proposing financing have been missed two years in a row now, so to me that's very disappointing. It's becoming clearer and clearer that there is no financing plan," Condon told Vermont Watchdog.
As Vermont Watchdog reported, an independent report by the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Avalere Health concluded that the costs of Green Mountain Care would require Vermont to raise tax revenue roughly equal to the state's tax collections from all sources today.
And, um, it's costing a lot more money than originally claimed. Who knew?
They say the states are the laboratories of socialism democracy, don't they?

From The Other McCain: Obama’s Part-Time Proletariat
Victims of Obamanomics:
Having worked as a nurse’s aide for 15 years, Ms. McCurdy has been among the nearly 25 million workers in the United States who make less than $10.10 an hour — the amount to which President Obama supports increasing the minimum wage. Of those workers, 3.5 million make the $7.25 federal minimum wage or less.
And like many of them, Ms. McCurdy hasn’t been able to rely on steady full-time hours — she has often been assigned just 20 hours a week. Even if she worked full time year-round, her $9 hourly wage would put her below the poverty threshold of $19,530 for a family of three.
If the economy were in recovery, as Democrats insist, the increasing demand for labor would offer better employment opportunities for everyone. But we all know this is not true and, absent real recovery, Democrats instead want to impede economic growth by the job-killing method of increasing the minimum wage. They propose this increase not for any economic reason, but for the political purpose of maneuvering Republicans into voting against it.

Yet an important question to be answered is, why do so many low-wage workers find themselves stuck with part-time jobs?...
Another possibility for the declining average workweek is the Affordable Care Act. That law induces businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees — full-time defined as 30 hours per week — to keep the number of hours low to avoid having to provide health insurance. The jury is still out on this explanation, but research by Luis Garicano, Claire LeLarge and John Van Reenen (National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2013) has shown that laws that can be evaded by keeping firms small or hours low can have significant effects on employment.
ObamaCare is killing Hope. We need a Change.
ABC: Democrats privately admit ObamaCare is “political poison” - Republicans smell a wave.
ABC’S Jeff Zeleny reported the obvious yesterday, on the rare day that the Sunday talk-head shows focused more on overseas stories than on domestic politics. Democrats have begun to worry that ObamaCare — and Barack Obama — have become political poison in the upcoming midterms:
ZELENY: How big of a political weight is the health care law on Democrats?
PELOSI: I think that the Republicans are wasting their time, using that as their electoral issue. And they will find that out.
ZELENY: So the Democrats shouldn’t shy away from it?
PELOSI: No. Absolutely not.
ZELENY (voice-over): But privately several Democrats tell ABC News they’re increasingly worried the health care law is political poison.
Their worries may be well founded, with polls showing the president and his top achievement are still highly unpopular.

I didn't know you could smell waves; I guess thats' why I didn't become a surfer.

Anatomy of a Democratic Midterm Freakout
National Democrats are in a near panic — if the media's highly-attuned panic detectors are any indicator — with a "poisonous" president unable to use his popularity to sway voters, a "screaming siren" warning about mid-term turnout, and Republicans on the offensive on Obamacare. There are a long eight months until November, but Democrats seem unlikely to get much sleep over the interim.
There are (at least!) six reasons why. . . .

3. Republicans have figured out how to walk the line on Obamacare.

In the wake of Jolly's win last week, Republicans clearly feel emboldened to return to the attack on Obamacare, a policy that (obviously not objective) GOP Chair Reince Priebus called "complete poison out there in the field." As Reuters notes, the win "has emboldened Republicans to press their case hard against Obama's signature first-term achievement."

Reuters reports that a Democratic pollster sent a memo around Capitol Hill after last week's race, explaining that "'keeping parts' of the Affordable Care Act that work and 'fixing those that don't' drew higher numbers than 'the Republican message of repeal.'"

Which is why House Republicans, after 50 votes attempting to curtail the law, have shifted toward a package of fixes. The Washington Post's Robert Costa describes the proposal as a sort of greatest hits of Republican reform proposals. And the rationale for releasing it now is obvious. "In meetings with Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) last week," Costa reports, "House leadership allies cast Florida as a sign of good things to come in November. But they also cautioned that Republicans needed to offer a clearer alternative."

It's important to note that the caucus' right-most wing, the group that largely prompted those 50 votes, is skeptical. But in order to rebut the Democrats on the campaign trail, Republicans only need an alternative in-hand, not necessarily for anything to pass.
As I pointed out yesterday, Republicans have picked up the manta "mend it, not end it", and are now forcing the Democrats into a defensive posture.

‘Twerking for Obamacare’: Embarrassing White House ‘health care bracketology’ GIFs slam dunked

In their attempt to promote Obamacare as part of the March Madness "Sweet 16 reasons to #Get Covered Now" campaign, the White House included this animated gif:

"Because accidents happen". And they happen more often to people who do stupid shit.

This young former supporter of Obama decided to burn her Obama shirt in protest:

(well, she thinks he's insufficiently communist, so there's that).

What's the matter with kids today?
Dana Milbank, a grumpy old man at the Washington Post, would like to know. He's not literally talking about kids, but about voting age adults--the "army of 15 million voters under 30" who "swept [Barack] Obama past Hillary Clinton and John McCain and to the presidency in 2008," and the smaller force, "more than 12 million," who "helped him return in 2012."

"But now his presidency is on the line," Milbank warns, "and the Obama youth are abandoning him in his hour of need." Which is to say that few of them are buying overpriced health-insurance policies:

The administration announced last week that only 1.08 million people ages 18 to 34 had signed up for Obamacare by the end of February, or about 25 percent of total enrollees. If the proportion doesn't improve significantly, the result likely will be fatal for the Affordable Care Act.
. . .
What went wrong? The president and his aides failed to keep his youth movement engaged. But part of the problem also is the inability of the millennial generation to remain attached to a cause. The generation that brought Obama to power is connected online but has no loyalty to institutions--including, it turns out, the Obama White House. . . . Asking them to pay money to join a health-care exchange, it seems, is too tall an order--even though the presidency they created depends on it.
Stupid kids, being unwilling to vote against their own self interest in the interests of the Democrats.

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